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Friday, July 9, 2010

Senior Hiking #359 - Mt. Pend Oreille

76° Sunny
June 28, 2010… Mt. Pend Oreille and beyond tr #67
…hike # 359
by Betsy

We got an earlier start today, and after getting “the boys” settled in, we took off. The forecast for today was HOT! The choices were to go up the Upper Pack River Rd to the end, climb to Harrison Lake and go off trail from there, with Little Harrison Lake in mind. I thought there still might be too much snow on the steep granite slabs, not to mention ice, making it quite dangerous.

The second choice was to go over to the Cabinets and climb Mt. Pend Oreille, a mountain we have climbed several times in the past. The majestic peak looms high on the Cabinet Range, and we can observe its beauty daily from our deck.

Driving to the trailhead up Trestle Creek Rd in Hope is an experience in itself...a long and steep 16 mile climb to Lunch Peak, where an old fire lookout still stands. The Forest Service now rents it out to folks who would like to experience what it would be like to live in one for a weekend. The primitive room is quite small and has only a wooden picnic table inside. An outhouse is down the hill, and the trail to Mt. Pend Oreille starts here. Most of the road up had been bladed and several new signs leading the way were installed. The top half of the road however was in extremely bad condition. Snow blocked the road just below the lookout so we walked up to the top to the trailhead.

The trail is a very pretty one, with views of the mountains and the lake just about the entire way. The undulations on this part of the trail are quite comfortable, at least for us. Several scree fields need to be crossed, and were careful to pick our steps wisely. Wildflowers were everywhere, with Glacier Lilies covering the meadows and hillsides with the yellow color of the beautiful edible blooms. There was also a lot more snow on the trail than we anticipated but it posed no problems.

Instead of climbing directly to the top, we hiked around, thinking we might be able to extend the hike off trail over to Mt. Willard (6536’) but serious snow stopped us…it would have been fool hardy to continue, with the cornices and steeps sides. So now we had to climb up the steep snow covered side to get up to the peak…I found ground to go up as much as I could, avoiding the steep snow banks. And I tried not to look down!

Once on top at 6756' elevation, the view was better than the view from Lunch Peak, which is at 6412' elevation. The remains of the old fire tower are still lying around, the cement posts, old telegraph cables and a lot of fallen structures. Other peaks along this trail are very visible...Mount Willard to the north, Smith Mountain, Calder Mountain and Purdy Mountain. From the 360° panorama, we could see the Cabinet Range to the east and Selkirk Range to the west and of course Lake Pend Oreille to the south. We huddled behind a clump of trees to get out of the chilly wind to eat our lunch. Then we climbed to the top before heading down to get a good pic and it was cold.
The undulations seemed to be more in the up direction than down for the trip out…and it got warm again. Cool breezes were now welcome. We saw a couple of cat tracks, and some scat and other than an occasional grouse, we saw no wildlife today.

Left home 10:30
Started up 10:00
Got to truck 4:00
Total miles hiked 11 miles
Total hiking time 6 hours

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